It’s been 14 months since I’ve been in a theater. The last film I was supposed to see was a press screening for A Quiet Place Part II right before South By Southwest 2020. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, but now, that same film is my first film post-vaccination, and I have to say that I wouldn’t have it any other way. The first in the series is still one of my all-time favorite theater experiences, and even though this one doesn’t use silence nearly as much, it still fires on all cylinders and delivers a masterclass in tension.
Written and directed by John Krasinski, A Quiet Place Part II stars Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, and newly introduced Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou. This sequel takes place immediately after the deadly events of the last film. Baby Abbott is here, Lee is dead, and the rest of the Abbott family—Evelyn (Blunt), Ragan (Simmonds), and Marcus (Jude)—are left trying to survive. With their home destroyed, they’re pushed to the outside world with no knowledge of who exists beyond the sand path that they have laid. Forced to venture into the unknown, the family quickly realizes that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats waiting for them.
The first thing that has to be said about A Quiet Place Part II is that it is a very different film than the first. Now, that isn’t to say it’s lost its magic so much as it’s found a new one. The first film thrived in silence and showcased the world from Regan’s perspective, using the silence of the theater to create an atmosphere that scared you if you chewed popcorn too loud. This one offers more sound. Regan is still central to the story, but by introducing more characters, using sound and speech becomes important to the film. That said, Krasinski builds a different kind of tension, utilizing sound and fear to up the tension in each shot. While before, the silence brought an increasing sense of dread the longer it went, now, in A Quiet Place Part II it is used effectively, sparingly, and to drive tension.
But the real shining stars of A Quiet Place Part II isn’t the sound design; it’s Blunt and Simmonds as Evelyn and Regan, respectively. While Evelyn showed she was a badass in the last film—you know, by giving birth and then giving an alien a shotgun to the dome—this film shows her keep fighting and stresses her focus on her children. But the real badass of this film is Regan. Pushed by the memory of her dad and the need to protect her family, Regan sets off on her own and is beyond capable of protecting herself, finding safety, and pushing newcomer Emmett (Murphy) to succeed against the monsters and himself.
Truthfully, Simmonds commands the screen, overshadowing everyone she performs with. She is strong. She is fierce. And she is confident. There is a solid imprint of Lee, Krasinski’s character, in Regan. She pushes to do more than she ever has to save those she loves. Her fear takes a backseat to securing safety, and more importantly, it’s clear that she learned everything her dad had to teach. There is a lingering sadness that Simmonds beautifully displays when alone with Emmett. And for his part, Emmett exists not to save Regan, so much as he exists to showcase her skill and, for lack of a better word, badassery.
On the other hand, Marcus is the weak link in the family chain. Now that isn’t to say that Jupe doesn’t offer a stunning performance; he does. That said, Marcus joins the ranks of annoying kids in horror movies who refuse to do what they’re told and thus make it bad for everyone around them. This is just one of two critiques for the film. The second is how the film chose to introduce and quickly dismiss characters of color and wasted their acting caliber on small moments rather than allowing them to play bigger roles in the narrative.
But beyond those small gripes, A Quiet Place Part II perfectly expands the world of the series. If you’re familiar with video games where the player’s map is useless in places they haven’t explored yet, that’s how this film expands the world. While it may not be as vast as some may have hoped or didn’t showcase human evil as much as it could have, it stays genuine to crafting an intimate narrative. Instead of leaning into the expansion of the world that characters live into a point where you understand everything, the audience only knows what the characters know. As we sit in our seats, we don’t know what’s beyond the treeline. We don’t know who or what is lurking in the forest or waiting in a deserted town. We see what they see, nothing more and nothing less. This is an excellent choice by Krasinski not only to build tension but to increase the importance of at least another sequel to the series.
That said, to say this world-building was done just for a trilogy doesn’t do the storytelling justice. In fact, every element of the world that is revealed is done so with a precision that not only develops the story but the characters as well. While there could have been smaller hints of human cruelty, what we’re given is enough to make you grasp the armrests of your seat and hold tight. The journey we are taken on puts us directly in the shoes of our protagonists and not as some omniscient observer. That is why this film works.
Overall, there is a beauty and fear pushed by A Quiet Place Part II. We get the chance to see the alien creatures closer than ever before, and the need to survive has only increased after a series of unfortunate events unravel. Additionally, at just over 90-minutes, the film doesn’t overstay its welcome. While it introduces some characters just to dump them in a bin, one critique can’t dull this film’s shine. Krasinski knows what he is doing. He understands science fiction, horror, and everything in between. While I like him as an actor, I want to see him direct more genre films. Whether it’s a sequel or beyond, I need it. A Quiet Place Part II is the perfect reason to return to the cinema.
A Quiet Place Part II is playing nationwide on May 28, 2021.
A Quiet Place Part II
Overall, there is a beauty and fear pushed by A Quiet Place Part II. We get the chance to see the alien creatures closer than ever before, and the need to survive has only increased after a series of unfortunate events unravel. Additionally, at just over 90-minutes, the film doesn’t overstay its welcome. While it introduces some characters just to dump them in a bin, one critique can’t dull this film’s shine…A Quiet Place Part II is the perfect reason to return to the cinema.